Standards Commissioner accuses Glenn Bedingfield of 'undermining' his office

Standards Commissioner George Hyzler hit out at a series of allegations made by Bedingfield over the weeks, ranging from corrupt staff members to overpaid chauffeurs

The Standards Commissioner is accusing Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield of undermining his office by making "unfounded accusations" against him and his staff.

In a stern letter penned by the Commissioner and addressed to the Speaker of the House, Commissioner George Hyzler hit out at a series of allegations made by Bedingfield over the weeks, ranging from corrupt staff members to overpaid chauffeurs.

Two weeks ago, the Labour MP questioned the appointment of a personal driver for Hyzler, whom the Comissioner said is paid €23,632 and not a Scale 9 (€24,650) salary as pegged to ministerial drivers.

Hyzler retaliated by saying that he is entitled to a chauffeur as part of his working conditions. He clarified that his chauffer is paid less than that of a minister or parliamentay secretary, and is expected to work every day, “not like the chauffers of a minister or parliamentary secretary that work every other day".

Bedingfield had also accused Hyzler of handpicking a consultant, Stephen Paris, who had been found guilty in court due to negligence as an auditor, but Hyzler said that this is false.

"It is not true that my financial consultant has been found guilty of negligence as an auditor. No criminal or professional action was taken against him. As an auditor he had nothing to do with the Priceclub case, and he showed up in the civil court case on this because the case was done against Deloitte and included all partners of the firm”.

Audit firm Deloitte had been found guilty of negligence in the way it had audited the Priceclub supermarket chain, which ran aground with millions in debts. As a partner of the firm, Paris together with six other auditors was ordered to shoulder part of the damages suffered by a supplier of poultry products that continued to do business with PriceClub

Bedingfield made a separate accusation that the son of a member of Hyzler's staff was a member of the civil society group Repubblika, arguing that this is a conflict of interest.

However, Hyzler said this was also false, and added that if it were true, it wouldn't constitute a conflict of interest.

“In that same way, the fact that the son of a legal consultant of yours is running as a party candidate for the next general election does not put him in a position of conflict,” Hyzler wrote.

The Commissioner said that he wrote to Bedingfield about corruption allegations among his staff, asking for more details to corroborate his claims, but this invitation was not met by the Labour MP, according to Hyzler.

"It disappoints me to observe that instead of taking this invitation, he again made allegations about my staff, including that one of them was removed from their previous job due to serious allegations, and that someone (that same person or another person) racked up a €3,000 bill on a telephone line as paid by public funds. Once again he did not provide details.”

"“The only conclusion that one can make is that [Bedingfield] is consistently trying to undermine my office by making insinuations and unfounded accusations not only against me but also against employees of my office, who are being victimised because they are doing their duty like every other public employee.”

Hyzler concluded his letter by requesting for it to be tabled in parliament.